Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 4/17/16 Opening Round

Hey all! James here, with our 2nd breakdown of the first round of the NBA playoffs - daily fantasy basketball edition. If you're a regular DFSR reader, you're going to notice that our daily playoff basketball articles are a bit different than our regular season articles. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, we're going to see a LOT of repeat picks here. If Jonas Valanciunas was a good play against the Pacers in game 1 (and he was - booya!). Second, it probably makes sense to go a little deeper on these short (but consistent) slates - so we'll go game by game instead of position by position.

Another quick note - we probably won't do updates articles unless there actually ARE updates on a given day. So if you want to talk hoops, comment on this article! Enjoy!

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Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers

On the surface, we'd like to be pretty cautious about recommending players from 1-8 match-ups in the playoffs. With a lot of teams going that are pretty evenly matched, why bother? I'm going to suggest this one is an exception. The Pistons took 3 of 4 from the Cavs this season (though the last one was without the starters), and should have the ability to at least stay in this one. Our lineup optimizer projects all starters on both sides of this game to get more than their season totals of minutes, making it one of the more stackable games on the slate.

Top Plays
LeBron JamesLeBron James - FD 10500 DK 10000
Opponent - DET
FD Proj. Pts - 50.2 DK Proj. Pts - 52.2
Early returns on the optimizer have LeBron basically everywhere, and it makes sense. It's a day without many expensive plays, and there's a significant chance that we see LeBron in God mode today. In the interest of full disclosure, though, LeBron was less than amazing in his three games against the Pistons this season. It's a small sample, but he turned the ball over quite a bit and didn't shoot well, either. Still, I'm trusting the end of season body of work over the small sample size (spread from November to March), and expecting that we see LeBron's best here.

Kyrie IrvingKyrie Irving - FD 7500 DK 7400
Opponent - DET
FD Proj. Pts - 36.72 DK Proj. Pts - 38.82
Kevin LoveKevin Love - FD 7100 DK 7000
Opponent - DET
FD Proj. Pts - 37.57 DK Proj. Pts - 40.21
I'm lumping these two together for a fairly simple reason - they're both underpriced relative to what they should do on playoff level minutes. Both Kyrie and Love played wildly erratic minutes down the stretch thanks to the Cavs' comfortable hold on the 1 seed, and their prices across the daily fantasy basketball industry declined as a result. Well, they'll play the full boat today, and I like there relative situations.

Kyrie will be up against Reggie Jackson, who's a less than stellar defender when he's right, and he's dealing with an abdominal strain that caused the Pistons to hold him out in the final two games of the regular season. Love, meanwhile, paid 5x or better on these prices in each of the Cavs' games against Detroit this season, and I don't see why that won't continue here.

Kentavious Caldwell-PopeKentavious Caldwell-Pope - FD 5200 DK 4700
Opponent - CLE
FD Proj. Pts - 26.79 DK Proj. Pts - 29.31
KCP's price dwindled from when he was putting up big nights on the regular, and for good reason. He stopped shooting 16 times a game, and the offense was primarily running elsewhere. And you know what? he was still a high floor option from night to night. Of particular interest here is KCP's success against the Cavs this season - he shot 20/36 from the field against them in 3 games, and the Cavs' lack of a solid perimeter defender left Caldwell-Pope open more than the Cavs would have liked. I think he's a very solid double-up play today.

Reggie JacksonReggie Jackson - FD 6500 DK 6300
Opponent - CLE
FD Proj. Pts - 33.77 DK Proj. Pts - 35.08
An upside play that could pay off huge in big tournaments today. The Pistons were pretty cautious with Jackson's minutes during the regular season, but reports are the he'll be unchained during the playoffs. He's capable of a monster game in the right match-up, and Kyrie Irving has never been known for his defensive prowess. The big question, though, is obviously his health. I can't recommend him in good conscience for 50/50s and double-ups, but I'm prepared to roll with him in big tourneys.

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Charlotte Hornets at the Miami Heat

In their four match-ups this year, the Hornets and Heat were separated by just 8 total points. Both teams are relatively healthy (this side of Chris Bosh), and are as likely as anyone to play their starters more minutes in the playoffs than they had been. There's just a few problems. Both teams played bottom 10 PACEs this season, and both were in the top 10 in terms of defensive efficiency. Since both teams are relatively healthy and played their starters down the stretch, there isn't a lot of DFS value to be had here.

The one major question mark for me is Nic Batum. He's swearing up and down that he'll play, but I wouldn't be surprised if he played with limited effectiveness, or limited minutes. I don't think it will impact my strategy for this game, but I'll have my eye on Jeremy Lin in case Charlotte decides to unleash him.

Top Plays
Dwyane WadeDwyane Wade - FD 7500 DK 6500
Opponent - CHA
FD Proj. Pts - 34.92 DK Proj. Pts - 35.46
Wade's production tailed off dramatically as the Heat started battling simply for seeding, but don't think for a second that he's not going to come out gunning in this game. Now let's be straight up about this - Nic Batum is a seriously tough defender. But this has all the feeling of one of those games where Wade tries to get his regardless of what the defense throws at him. He's a terrific play on DraftKings in any format, but I'm scared enough here that I'm only playing him in tournaments on FanDuel.

Hassan WhitesideHassan Whiteside - FD 8700 DK 8700
Opponent - CHA
FD Proj. Pts - 39.49 DK Proj. Pts - 40.16
I've got other plans at center today, but I'd be remiss to not mention the fact that Hassan Whiteside could literally kill the Charlotte front court today. None of them are really known for their defense or contested rebounding, and Whiteside's been a kettle ready to boil over all season. I have a feeling Spoelstra is finally ready to turn him loose, and anything from 32-38 minutes seems in play here. I'm projecting him relatively conservatively because we simply haven't seen him play big minutes yet, but don't be shocked if you see him atop tournament leaderboards today.

Courtney LeeCourtney Lee - FD 4000 DK 3800
Opponent - MIA
FD Proj. Pts - 20.89 DK Proj. Pts - 22.17
Are we excited yet? Courtney Lee is showing up in some optimal lineups today for two basic reasons - he's cheap, and he plays a lot of minutes. We have him projected for a relatively conservative 33 minutes (he could play as many as 38 with Batum's questionable health), and still like him for 5x or better on his current prices. The major driver of this ranking is who should be covering him - Joe Johnson. With Wade likely trailing Batum (or Walker), Lee should be chased by either Dragic or Hapless Joe. It's a tough day for shooting guards, and I'm a buyer.

The interesting upside play: Al Jeff has been dominant on a points per minute basis recently, and Charlotte could really mix things up by playing him his biggest minutes of the season. There's nothing left to save him for, and it wouldn't shock me to see him play 30+ minutes in a game or more this series.

Memphis Grizzles at the San Antonio Spurs

YUCK! Yuck. This is the most lopsided playoff match-up of my lifetime, and I hardly know what to make of it. The big question here is: how many minutes are these guys going to play? Is Memphis going to roll its starters out there for their full minutes when they're down by 30 every game? Is San Antonio going to leave Kawhi out there for high 30s minutes, or is Pop going to treat this like the 2nd half of a back to back in January? A lot of DFS fortunes will hinge on what happens here, and the uncertainty of it has me more than a little bit spooked. In spite of some juicy match-ups for the Spurs in particular, I'm fairly likely to steer clear for a game here if I can.

Top Plays
Kawhi LeonardKawhi Leonard - FD 8900 DK 8500
Opponent - MEM
FD Proj. Pts - 42.6 DK Proj. Pts - 44.42
I put Kawhi atop this list because Pop seems to be content to let his young star play big minutes a lot more readily than he is his aging stars. Leonard played 38-40 minutes in 4 of the Spurs last 6 games in spite of the fact that they were essentially playing for nothing, and while this series looks for all the world like a foregone conclusion, I can imagine the Spurs will at least want to get a solid lead before they start any egregious resting practices. The shame for Kawhi here is that he draws one of the Grizzlies few remaining competent defenders in Matt Barnes, but Leonard's on a level right now to where that shouldn't matter a whole heck of a lot.

Tony ParkerTony Parker - FD 5000 DK 4200
Opponent - MEM
FD Proj. Pts - 23.81 DK Proj. Pts - 24.47
Parker is more of an interesting upside play to me, but there's upside here nonetheless. Parker's been held under 30 minutes for most of this season, but one has to believe that Pop will stretch him out in the playoffs at least a little bit. The key factor I'll be evaluating in this game is who guards him. If the Grizz stick Tony Allen on him, I'd expect the Spurs will just let everybody else score all the points. But if he draws one of the lousy point guards Memphis is playing right now, Parker could absolutely explode. I don't trust it for a handful of reasons (the minutes and the defensive matchup), but this could be a huge game.

I hate everybody on Memphis.
Not personally, just for daily fantasy purposes today. How are you supposed to project their minutes? If there's one wild card for me, it's JaMychal Green. If the Grizzlies are in trouble, he could see extended minutes and have outsized production against less-defensively minded backups like David West. But if you trust any of these guys, you might be in for a world of pain.

Portland Trail Blazers at the Los Angeles Clippers

My favorite first round match-up. Two of the league's best point guards. The league's current "next big thing" darling against the team that pundits believe "simply needs to be broken up." Two high profile, above the rim big men against a group of cast offs and role players. And the looming possibility of hack-a-DeAndre ruining nearly everything. Some terrific plays here, so let's have a look, shall we?

Top Plays
Chris PaulChris Paul - FD 9500 DK 9000
Opponent - POR
FD Proj. Pts - 49.92 DK Proj. Pts - 52.06
So, so juicy. The Clips have guarded Paul's minutes with a chastity belt for the last month+ of the regular season - he hadn't played more than 35 minutes in any game since March 9th. But they've shown that they are more than willing to put him out there for high 30s and even low 40s minutes in the playoffs (he played 40+ 3 times in their epic Spurs series), and you had better believe that Doc isn't going down without his best player in this one. While Lillard has improved his defense somewhat this season, he can't handle a full throttle Paul. I won't have any cash game lineups without CP3 today, and I don't suspect many people will.

Blake GriffinBlake Griffin - FD 9100 DK 7600
Opponent - POR
FD Proj. Pts - 44.06 DK Proj. Pts - 44.73
The biggest daily fantasy basketball question mark of the day, and it isn't really that close. Yes, Griffin didn't play that many minutes at the end of the regular season. And yes, his situation in LA is one of the most bizarre in the NBA right now. It's easy to forget, though, that he was regularly topping 40 minutes a game in last year's playoffs as well - and putting up serious numbers in very tough match-ups. The Trail Blazers are no such tough match-up. Ed Davis is a competent defender, but he'll only be out there for 20ish minutes in all likelihood. That leaves a rotation cast of guys either too small (Aminu) or too slow (Plumlee) to cover him. This could be a truly monster performance. Or it could be a dud. But I'm betting on monster.

Most of the Clippers starters, frankly: Just because their minutes were jerked around so much at the end of the season. Redick is likely playing 30+ here, and would be a great play. DeAndre should dominate the boards and play a bunch of minutes. Heck, I even like Jeff Green on some level here.

Mason PlumleeMason Plumlee - FD 5600 DK 4800
Opponent - LAC
FD Proj. Pts - 32.15 DK Proj. Pts - 32.62
The Trail Blazers have a few great plays of their own today, including my personal favorite - Mason Plumlee. The Blazers were playing to avoid the Thunder in the last week of the season, and if the way they handled their stars is any indication, they were playing something like their playoff lineups. And that included healthy doses of Plumlee. He scored 33+ fantasy points in 3 of his last 4 games, and did his usual fantasy point per minute in the process. DeAndre has always been overrated from a defensive perspective for fantasy purposes, and Plumlee is my choice at center today in any format.

Damian LillardDamian Lillard - FD 8500 DK 8600
Opponent - LAC
FD Proj. Pts - 41.94 DK Proj. Pts - 45.11
One of the three guys I'll consider for 50/50s today, Lillard will be shouldering an offensive load that few others will be in the first round of the playoffs. His performances were a mixed bag against the Clippers this season, but he did put up a 20/4/7 and a 20/7/9/2/1 game in 2 of their 4 meetings. I'll fully disclose that I far prefer Paul in this game, but given some of the uncertainty around the other point guard options today, I can very much seeing rolling Lillard out there if I'm looking for a high floor.


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55 Visitor Comments

  1. Although you don’t like anyone Memphis, they are lighting up the optimizer. Gonna be probably honing in on my boy, the veteran, Matt Barnes!

  2. Lance Stephenson is gonna be real sneaky today

  3. Tim Duncan has huge upside tonight, he should get 30+ min. I’m Thinking 15/15/3, and his price is low.

    • What about blow out potential? I was thinking about plugging him in too at that price

  4. Any thoughts on Kemba

  5. Which of these combos?
    Courtney Lee/Duncan



    Also do you guys usually just play the optimal lineup exactly how it is or do you tweak it by a few players if you have some gut feelings or personal preferences?

    • I think it depends on if your doing tourneys or cash games 50 50. U don’t want to tie 75 ppl in a tourney with the same exact lineup so tweak it to your gut feelings imo

  6. Al Jefferson handles Whiteside easily, I’m much more on a cheap Jefferson with huge upside!! And spoelestra doesn’t trust Hassan, hasn’t for a year and a half. You think he starts today???

  7. @ michael rapol i dont believe zeller has much upside over whiteside playing him will hold alot of risk with big al playing so well he prolly will get more 30 plus minutes compared to zeller prolly eventually give way to big al in starting rotation if he continues to play so well

  8. I’m playing tournaments on FanDuel so that’s why I was thinking Duncan over Jefferson, because of usage rate. The fear is that its 75-15 at halftime.

  9. Jodie Meeks returned last game for Pistons been out pretty much all year…Might eat into KCP minutes ?

  10. The optimizer was horrible for basketball yesterday. I lost my Arse. Can’t complain though as it is usually pretty good. Will try again today and hope for better results.

  11. It would have been fine if harden didn’t poop his pants , if he would have put fifty we would have cashed easily

    • Harden harden and Beverly def screwed everything up, and made me lose all my gpp’s but optimizer still managed to land me at 49th place in all my 50/50’s lol.

  12. Cant bring myself to trust Blake at his price today

  13. I know I hope the optimizer changes he needs to prove something before he is getting projections like this

    • What would you like to see changed? If he projects at mid 30’s+ minutes (which is totally reasonable) then I see him as an excellent play.

  14. Stanley Johnson or Kyle Anderson as a punt?

  15. iriving

    this is one my gpp plays today what u guys think

  16. Hey Doug, are we not concerned that jackson is listed as gtd? I have him in most of my lineups (50/50s) due to optimizer suggestions.

  17. Hey Doug, my only concern with RJ is that in your notes u said you couldn’t really trust him for 50/50’s but the optimizer has him in. So is it safe to play him in 50/50’s or no? Thanks

    • That’s based on perceived health. If you think he is fully healthy (which I’ve some notes suggest then yes, he’s a cash game play). If you think he’s limited because of injury I’d just run the second lineup. James and I differ a little bit on things like this. He’s more cautious when it comes to injuries. I’m more willing to take things at face value if a player is in there.

  18. Don’t care what the optimizer says, you couldn’t pay for an entry of mine that has Danny green in it. Don’t care how cheap he is. Dude plays 30+ a night, usually finishes with like 17 fpts. No thanks

    • I agree with you Tom on Danny Green! He sucks…..

  19. Ha. I hear you on Green. The issue here is less about Green love and more about other SG hate. System just wants you to spend up elsewhere and take your knocks at SG with at least some decent expected minutes. But I totally get it. Green can pull disappearing acts.

    • I think I’m going to stay balanced today, because playoff basketball is all about the minutes and rotations tighten up which make a cash game approach excellent for a tournament as well. What do y’all think about this line up for FD?
      Chris Paul
      Reggie Jackson
      D Wade
      Nic Batum
      Matt Barnes
      Kevin Love
      M Williams
      Mason Plumlee

    • Interesting. My initial look at SG was it was garbage so I went the other way and paid up for CJ and DWade. Only position from my seat where the gap between those two and everyone else will most likely be 10fp. Seemed like lots of value and other spots and none at SG.

      Why I love DFS 🙂 we both agree SG isn’t good but took it in opposite directions… and we’ll probably both be wrong 🙂

  20. So using optimizer as a base I used this on dk for cash : cp3/Jr. Smith/Barnes/griffin/Duncan/lillard/k love/tony Parker. That’s better by default than anything with Danny effing green in it in my opinion lol

    • I really don’t like JR Smith, i would rather take my chances with kcp, he’s averaged 30 fp against Cleveland.

  21. Theres my 50/50 lineup for fanduel
    m morris
    ed davis
    tristian thompson
    what do you guys think?

  22. Hey Doug do you think Aldrich over plumlee to save 2000 would be alright or is that playing with fire. Thx

  23. Curving CP3 and Lillard. Not a great feeling about them. Griffin seems possible to have a big night but too risky IMO

    Reggie Jackson
    Al Jefferson

  24. Doug, or anybody for that matter lol. IF I went against the optimizer, and took Danny green out, is there anybody that has a better chance of putting up some points?

    • Redick is a bit more but is probably a little safer

  25. Banging my head deciding Barnes or Morris…some input please?

    • I feel I feel like Barnes for this one. No reason, just a hunch

  26. Does Lebron guard Morris or Harris?

  27. Thanks Pete

  28. So which stud gonna be the dud today?

  29. Marvin wiliams or Luol Deng??

  30. Good luck to everyone… My FanDuel

    Big Al

  31. Good luck to you too. Hopefully a better day than yesterday. Went against the LO a little on FD.
    Lillard, jackson,lee,reddick,james,green,love,griffin,big AL and then cp3, jackson,lin,reddick,james,leonard,love,davis,zeller

  32. Any updates on JJ? His low percentage ownership makes me frightened

  33. im putting both JJ and Green in one of my lineups.. maybe hardly owned and they both go off… highly doubt it but there’s hope.

  34. Big Al off to a rocky start, hopefully he at least puts up 25 FP

  35. Doug, which do you think is safer – Crawford or Redick?

  36. The final optimizer faded kawhi ugh… Lol

    Danny green being danny green…

    My fear of Irving came true and he dropped a 50 burger… Without him in my line…

    Last game hasn’t started yet but we have some serious ground to cover. I have faith tho..

  37. Opti gonna be close

    • It’s going to be a nail biting night just to double up tonight! I have faith tho. DFSR!!!

  38. How accurate is the optimizer? has anyone had any great wins?

    • Love the optimizer for NBA! Sometimes I make minor changes but it always seems to find the low owned sleepers!! Love dfsr!!! Changed my whole dfs career

  39. I have cashed 3000 in Checks on 25 buy in and 2 months of the optimizer so 80 in total over 2900 not huge but huge for doing nothing

  40. Min 40 from chris paul… Minimum 35 from griffin… Min 25 from plumlee… Min 17 from green…
    +117 on the way! Ridiculous comeback on the way!!!! LET’S GET THIS!!!!!

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